SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — No matter who is elected to serve in the South Dakota Legislature this November, lawmakers can expect abortion to be a focus in Pierre next January.
KELOLAND News reached out to every legislative candidate ahead of the midterm election to ask their thoughts on several hot button issues including abortion. Candidates were asked two questions on the topic:
- South Dakota’s current abortion law makes the procedure illegal with an exception to “preserve the life of the pregnant female.” Anyone who induces an abortion is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Does this law need clarifying?
- Do any other state laws need to be changed to reflect the new post-Roe era when an individual state such as South Dakota can choose its path regarding abortion?
The majority of the candidates who responded to our survey expressed support for clarifying the law to broaden access to abortion. The answers varied in just how much that access should be expanded ranging from exceptions for cases of rape/incest, addressing the Class 6 felony for physicians, or adjusting language to make the law clearer for South Dakotans.
There were also several candidates who expressed a desire to repeal the law entirely to restore abortion access back to the state.
While the Democrats were heavily in favor of repealing or clarifying the law, Republicans were split among whether to clarify or not.
For those in favor of repealing or clarifying the law, many expressed a desire to let voters make the final decision on whether abortion should be legal in South Dakota.
Dakotans for Health is working to place that decision on the ballot in 2024 through a constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment would restore access to abortion during the first trimester. The amendment would allow for regulations in the second trimester related to the health of the pregnant woman while the third trimester would only allow abortions if necessary to save the life or health of the mother.
If placed on the ballot, that amendment would be the third time South Dakotans were given the opportunity to be the deciding voice on abortion. In 2006 and 2008, voters rejected two separate abortion bans placed on the ballot.
Not all candidates supported clarifying the current trigger law. Eight candidates said they did not want to alter the law in any way.
Two candidates want to clarify the law to further restrict abortion access. One candidate wanted to include medication abortions in the trigger law. Medication abortions through telemedicine are already illegal after a bill introduced by Governor Kristi Noem was signed into law during the 2022 legislative session.
There were seven candidates who elected not to respond to the questions citing the desire to listen more to constituents before coming to a decision.
You can read the full responses from all the candidates below.
This story will be updated as we receive more responses from candidates.